Here are three highly questionable behaviors, to put it mildly, we have been recently obeserving employers engage in, when denying their employees religious exemptions from their Covid-19 vaccination requirement at workplace. These behaviors do not include the obvious point – continuing the vaccanation requirement policy despite being fully aware that the vaccines in question neither stop infection nor transmission of Covid-19 are needlessly harmful to both the employers and their workforce.
- Requiring fully remote employees to be vaccinated and denying religious exemptions from this quirement on the grounds of “undue hardship”. It is hard to imagine a half legitimate argument as to why any employer would care about their fully remote workers’ vaccination status, let alone denying a remote worker’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccination requirement. These workers never come in contact with their co-workes or with the employer’s customers / clients, so there is no risk of any type of exposure from that employee.
- Denying requests for a religious accommodation to be exempt from the vaccination requirement without a good reason. We repeatedly see employers deny religious exemption requests after receiving more than sufficient information to grant an exemption, using the following vague verbeage: “Based on the information you have provided, we are unable to grant you your accommodation request”. Employers often do not (and cannot) provide any legitimate basis for their decision to deny these requests.
- Informing an employee requesting exemption of their need to return to work in person fully or partially and to subsequently replace them with a fully remote worker. This might be the most unethical tactic out of the three used by employers. They would deny an exemption request informing the employee that the reason for the denial is the fact that they will have to come back and work in an office full time or partially. Once that employee resigns or is terminated because of being denied an accommodation, the employer will post their job, advertising it as fully remote.
Many lawsuits for wrongfully termination on the basis for wrongful failure to grant religious exemption from the vaccination requirement have been filed against both private employers and public entities, and it would be interesting to see the results once these cases are “ripe” for trial.